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TITLE: The Beauty of Innocence
By Darlene Suter

Oh to be a child once again!

There are places in me that I know only you would dare to go – places so dark and dreary where the light of truth is buried under broken dreams and scars of abuse.

I’ve longed for the days of childhood where innocence once walked silently hand-in-hand with faith. I see myself running through fields of flowers and breathing in the smell of newly fallen rain.

I see myself jumping in piles of leaves and the taste of snowflakes gently falling on my tongue. I remember playing outside all day until my fingernails were caked with dirt, my knees were scraped from playing tag and my greatest since of fashion was the necklace of dirt that was naturally placed upon my neck.

I remember mud pies and the simplistic awe of discovering how tadpoles turn into frogs. I remember nights of lying outside staring up at a starry sky and wondering if somewhere Luke Skywalker wasn’t battling Darth Vader to save our universe. I recall hoping that somewhere there was a land where little blue kind creatures called Smurfs prevailed over the attempts of an evil sorcerer named Gargamel.

I never cared that what I was wearing may not match or that my hair wasn’t perfectly in place and the simple things in life; like a chocolate sundae or a sunny day made me happy. And I never cared if I had 50 cents or 50 dollars. I remember seeing you pictured in my mother’s large coffee table bible and how the leper grasped your feet. I’ll never forget the look on his face – a look of pleasure and adoration. It was as if you were all he had and all he ever wanted and that image burned in my mind.

I remember talking so candidly with the neighbor girl about whom you were and why you came. I had no feeling of embarrassment or shame. I showed her the same bible and we marveled at the picture of you coming out of the tomb. Then one day someone told me to grow up, and so I did.

I never knew or understood how sin could ravage and tear you to pieces. It doesn’t discriminate and it doesn’t care. It causes a vicious cycle and directs you in paths and lies to you by saying “this is the way of an adult.”

It mocks your innocence and scoffs at your faith. It adorns itself with pleasures and temporary relief. And we foolishly walk that path. We long for the vices of adulthood and as we tear and rip each other apart, we create walls and do not attend to festering wounds that could affect someone else. We even talk ourselves into believing that this is a better life. We are so proud that we are no longer an ignorant child, but an educated adult who sees that fingernails caked with dirt is nasty and tadpoles turning into frogs are an everyday occurrence. And we forget the leper grasping your feet and you coming out of the tomb.

And like a weary soldier, we come to You … with battle scars and ask You to fix us – and do it in a hurry. But, I’ve learned something. I see Jesus perhaps sitting on the edge of a stoop and watching His disciples argue about who the greatest in the Kingdom is. And after great debate they finally turn to Him and ask.

I imagine Him sitting there watching a child hard at play, perhaps a child like me who ran through fields of flowers and stared up at starry skies and wondered. I can see Him drowning out the arguments of the disciples and delighting in the humility, simplicity and innocence of that little child.

I can see Him smile perhaps remembering what Adam was like before the fall and calling the little child over to you and saying, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And He say that knowing that someday very soon He is going to the cross and He is going to make a way for the battle-scarred soldier who lost his innocence to taste freedom once again. And He challenges us with words and tells us that he who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for His sake will find it and unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.

And then tells us to take up our cross. I understand this a little more Lord, though I must admit, I still have my adult mind that tries to interpret what you say. Perhaps some day I’ll awaken to find that Darlene is gone and that child that ran through fields of flowers with great abandon has resurrected in her place!
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